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World America needs a democratic revolution

19:16  17 september  2020
19:16  17 september  2020 Source:   vox.com

The American Government Gave Up on Reality

  The American Government Gave Up on Reality Over the past 50 years, the three branches have lost their capacity to analyze and act on independent, nonpartisan information.“Whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice” was, Hamilton wrote, entirely uncertain. People are prone to tribalism and irrationality, easy targets for leaders who traffic in demagoguery and corruption. Hamilton doubted that it was even “seriously to be expected” that “We the People” would be able to set aside existing passions and prejudices long enough to debate the ratification of the Constitution itself solely on its merits.

a person holding a colorful umbrella: People participate in the Women’s March in Washington, DC, on January 18, 2020. © Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images People participate in the Women’s March in Washington, DC, on January 18, 2020.

The outcome of the 2020 presidential race is very much in question, but nobody — including President Donald Trump’s biggest boosters — thinks he stands much of a chance of winning more votes than former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump fell well short of that benchmark in 2016; he has never had an average job approval rating of 50 percent or higher; and he’s running weaker this year than he did four years ago. Trump’s strategy — which some analysts say has a decent chance of working — is to take advantage of the fact that the tipping point states in the Electoral College are likely 2-3 percentage points more favorable to him than the national electorate.

Most Americans, Regardless of Political Alignment, Want a Third Party

  Most Americans, Regardless of Political Alignment, Want a Third Party However, many electoral roadblocks stand in the way of making a third party truly viable in American politics.The poll—conducted by the Washington, D.C. newspaper The Hill and the market research company HarrisX—found that when broken out by gender, varying ages ranges, races, education and income levels and geographic location, support for a viable third party remained near or just above 60 percent.

If Biden wins the election, the Democratic Party will almost certainly gain seats in the US Senate. But it’s far from clear whether Democrats will be able to secure a majority. In the 2018 Senate races that led to Republican gains, most votes were cast for Democrats. Democrats also won a majority of votes in Senate races in 2016, but again, Republicans secured a majority.

Republicans benefit from dynamics in states across the country. Two years ago in Wisconsin, for example, Democrats swept narrow victories in the statewide races and also secured 53 percent of the votes cast in elections for the lower house of the state legislature. But because of gerrymandering, the GOP won over 60 percent of the seats. And knowing they’d be insulated from public backlash, the legislature held a special lame duck session during which they stripped power from the state executive branch and reassigned it to themselves. Something similar happened in Michigan that same year, and in North Carolina two years earlier.

Democratic donors raised millions after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death

  Democratic donors raised millions after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death Swing state polls show voters want Joe Biden to choose the next Supreme Court justice.Court appointments were already a key issue for voters across the political spectrum. Recent polling showed that Democratic voters were more motivated than Republicans by Supreme Court nominations. As President Trump’s polling numbers have lagged behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden over the past several months largely due to his inept response to the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic collapse, Trump has attempted to remind voters that Supreme Court nominations are on the line this election.

All of these outcomes — in which Republicans hold power despite winning fewer votes — are baked into the American system. They won’t go away if Trump is removed from office. It’s become commonplace for Democrats’ rhetoric to cast Trump’s presidency as a threat to American democracy. But it would be more accurate to say his presidency is a consequence of our constitutional system’s democratic shortcomings. If Democrats manage to win in November, they owe it to their voters to make a serious effort to lead a democratic revolution in the United States that would truly bury Trumpism once and for all.

The skewed Senate

“Democracy,” in the American context, is often taken to mean something like direct popular control through elections. So when George Mason University economist Garrett Jones writes a book titled 10 Percent Less Democracy, he means we should conduct more policymaking in institutions like the Federal Reserve that empower technical experts rather than being responsive to mass opinion.

The Vox Senate interview: Doug Jones on how Democrats can win in the South

  The Vox Senate interview: Doug Jones on how Democrats can win in the South Jones speaks on the Senate filibuster, Covid-19 recovery, and the new Democratic South.Jones certainly touts his bipartisan work with Republicans, but he has also voted against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and voted to convict President Trump during the Senate’s February impeachment trial.

That’s an interesting topic for debate. But the soul of democracy is not just in the act of voting for politicians. Nobody voted for Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, but he, rather than Merrick Garland, is sitting on the Supreme Court as a direct consequence of election outcomes. And there’s nothing undemocratic about that. The core principle of democracy is political equality — the idea that all citizens are equal under the law and deserve to have their interests considered equally by the political system. That’s where Gorsuch becomes a problem for democracy.

Not only did Trump ascend to the presidency while winning fewer votes than his opponent, but the Senate that blocked Garland’s confirmation in 2016 was one where most Americans were represented by a Democrat — but most senators were Republicans, because the entire Senate is a massive violation of the principle of political equality.

America’s founders did not believe in either concept of democracy, so the fact that the hard-boiled compromise between large and small states is inegalitarian did not bother them very much.

The Election That Could Break America

  The Election That Could Break America If the vote is close, Donald Trump could easily throw the election into chaos and subvert the result. Who will stop him?There is a cohort of close observers of our presidential elections, scholars and lawyers and political strategists, who find themselves in the uneasy position of intelligence analysts in the months before 9/11. As November 3 approaches, their screens are blinking red, alight with warnings that the political system does not know how to absorb. They see the obvious signs that we all see, but they also know subtle things that most of us do not. Something dangerous has hove into view, and the nation is lurching into its path.

Over the past 230 years, the population gap between the smallest and largest states has only grown. At the time of the 1790 census, Virginia had a bit less than 13 times the population of Delaware. Today that’s about the gap between Wyoming and Washington state, but Washington has only about one-fifth the population of California.

But the significance of the Senate’s skew has also changed. In the early years of the Republic, the Senate overrepresented the slower-growing South, and many political battles were fought over the admission of new states that could shift the balance between the North and South. During the relatively low polarization politics of the 20th century, the key thing about the Senate was it overrepresented rural interests — distorting policy around farm subsidies, for example — but mostly in ways that were unimportant to the main themes of political conflict.

Today, however, the electorate is increasingly polarizing around the interrelated lines of urbanization, population density, and race. The Senate, by happenstance rather than design, has evolved into what Jonathan Chait aptly terms “the most powerful source of institutional racism in American life.” Right now there are about 0.3 senators for every million people. But because the states that are overrepresented in the Senate are whiter than the national average, there are 0.35 senators for every million white people and only 0.26 for every million African Americans and just 0.19 for every million Hispanics.

The Election Is Already Under Way in America’s Courts

  The Election Is Already Under Way in America’s Courts And the two parties—and the judges they have appointed—are on completely divergent legal paths.Each state establishes the rules and procedures for how its residents vote. Those rules are subject to the constraints imposed by the U.S. Constitution, as interpreted by the courts. This election cycle is also complicated by a pandemic that creates all sorts of challenges to holding the election, and by a president, backed by his political party, who seems intent on making voting harder.

“The Senate gives the average black American only 75 percent as much representation as the average white American,” writes David Leonhardt in the New York Times. “And the average Hispanic American? Only 55 percent as much.”

And yet the Senate is only the beginning of the ways racial inequity is perpetuated by America’s failures of political equality.

The scourge of gerrymandering

The term gerrymandering comes from an 1812 political cartoon that rendered it in essentially aesthetic terms. The district, drawn up by Massachusetts’s then-Gov. Elbridge Gerry, was characterized by his political opponents as a monstrous beast, the Gerrymander, rather than a more conventional shape.

a close up of text on a black background: The 1812 political cartoon that gave us the term “gerrymander.” © Elkanah Tisdale/Boston Gazette The 1812 political cartoon that gave us the term “gerrymander.”

This focus on aesthetics leads to the conclusion that “both sides do it” since you can unquestionably find funny-looking maps drawn by both Democratic and Republican state legislatures.

The real issue, once again, is political equality. And the segregated nature of American housing patterns means it’s generally not possible for Democrats to gerrymander as effectively as Republicans do. A healthy chunk of the Democratic base vote consists of nonwhite people living in overwhelmingly nonwhite neighborhoods, that lend themselves to “packing” Democrats into inefficient lopsided districts.

Before the 2018 midterm elections, redistricting expert Dave Wasserman worked with the team at FiveThirtyEight to create an Atlas of Redistricting that makes the point well. Take a highly competitive state like Pennsylvania, for example. Under the most efficient GOP gerrymander, there are likely 13 safe Republican seats, with the Democrats packed into one Pittsburgh seat and four in and around Philadelphia. Under an aggressive pro-Democratic gerrymander, they likely secure just nine safe seats. Even in a blue-leaning state like Minnesota, the best Democratic gerrymander likely secures five safe seats while the best Republican one secures six.

RBG, the 2020 election, and the rolling crisis of American democracy

  RBG, the 2020 election, and the rolling crisis of American democracy “This type of tension, in other countries, has led to civil war.”Liberal democracy only functions when major parties accept the right of their opponents to govern. The purpose of the system is to take the antagonism that defines politics everywhere and channel it, creating rules and establishing norms that prevent one segment of the population from crushing others’ ability to participate in and shape the system.

This also filters down to state legislatures where “Republican-drawn maps in 2012 had a much larger partisan bias than Democratic ones,” says David Shor, a Democratic data analyst. He calculates that none of the top 15 most-skewed maps were drawn by Democratic legislatures — not because Democrats are uniquely virtuous, but because residential patterns in the United States don’t lend themselves to hyper-aggressive Democratic gerrymanders.

A lot of time and energy is wasted among analysts in debating how exactly to characterize skewed maps that result from residential segregation. Jowei Chen and Jonathan Rodden, for example, argue that “while conventional wisdom holds that partisan bias in U.S. legislative elections results from intentional partisan and racial gerrymandering, we demonstrate that substantial bias can also emerge from patterns of human geography.”

Intent, however, is simply not the main issue here. The Senate’s biases are largely unintentional, but even more severe. The problem is that state legislatures, the House of Representatives, and the Senate are all biased in the same way — and further reinforced by the Electoral College. If Democrats want to pull the country out of its current state of madness, they need to address it.

Political inequality is the source of our crisis

In June, Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) warned that if Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, become states, “Republicans will never be in the majority in the United States Senate.”

Mathematically, this is absurd. Right now, the are 53 Republican senators and 47 in the Democratic caucus. If Puerto Rico and DC became states tomorrow and sent four Democrats to Washington, the balance would shift to 53-51 and Republicans would be still in the majority. One key reason: Admitting these two states would narrow the racial inequality in Senate representation, it would not eliminate it.

Noel Gallagher blames America for sexualising female artists

  Noel Gallagher blames America for sexualising female artists Oasis legend Noel Gallagher has a problem with how America has created a culture where women are sexualised.The former Oasis guitarist has slammed 'Midnight Sky' hitmaker Miley Cyrus' recent performance of her hit song for the MTV Video Music Awards last month, in which she performed on top of a giant disco wrecking ball.

What’s telling about Risch’s remarks, however, is less the math than the defeatism behind it. The notion that Republican electoral victories require massive political inequality flies in the face of all kinds of common sense. Republicans are serving today as the governors of Massachusetts, Maryland, and Vermont while Democrats govern Kansas, Louisiana, and Kentucky. There’s always a pivotal voter somewhere, and always a basic contestation between the principles of the left and the right.

But Republicans — not just Trump but mainstream ones like Risch — have just given up on the idea of formulating an agenda that appeals to the majority of the population. That’s contrary to the interests of most people. But it also fuels dysfunctional habits like hyper-engagement with Fox News over external reality. And once you’ve habituated yourself to ignoring the normative force of political equality, you end up on a very slippery slope.

Today’s Republicans strip power from governors in lame-duck legislative sessions. They not only defend the life-long disenfranchisement of ex-convicts, they use control of the courts to subvert referendums that pass to re-enfranchise them. They try to subvert the accuracy of census counts, and block the use of safe voting methods in the middle of a pandemic.

In their defense, tradition is on their side. The United States de facto or de jure denied the vote to African Americans for most of its history, and until the Baker v. Carr (1962) ruling, it was standard practice to draw state legislative districts that violated the one person one vote principle. The generation or so after the passage of the Voting Rights, when the Electoral College never made a practical difference in presidential elections, was an exception rather than the rule. But the principle of political equality is a good one and worth fighting for.

The time for structural reform

If Democrats do well in November, pressure will be overwhelming on members of Congress to deliver in key ways for interest groups that supported them. For members representing swing districts, it will seem risky to spend time and energy on process issues that might be seen as partisan power grabs. But these are not power grabs.

People of color who live in cities should have equal voting rights as rural whites. It’s a core demand for justice, and the fact that the system does not work that way makes it exceptionally difficult to make enduring progress on any economic, racial, or environmental justice topic. These inequities have never been justifiable, and the fact that they align sharply with partisan politics makes them worse, not better.

The good news is that Democrats have begun some of the necessary work to get changes done. In 2019, House Democrats wisely made political reform a top priority by writing and passing HR 1 — a package of election reform measures that included automatic voter registration and federal curbs on partisan gerrymandering. It went nowhere in a Republican-controlled Senate, but that could change if the majority flips.

Senate staffers generally say that it’s good to look at what’s already passed in the House to get a sense of what a hypothetical Democratic-controlled Senate might take up. The House has also passed legislation to turn Washington, DC, into a state. This could get 50 or 51 votes in the Senate, too, if Democrats do well in November.

But as Vox’s Ian Millhiser writes, neither bill has any chance of securing 60 votes, so hopes for Democratic reform hinge entirely on the prospects for enacting another democratic reform — abolition of the filibuster.

If change happens, historians may look back on former President Barack Obama’s eulogy for Rep. John Lewis as a watershed. Speaking at Lewis’s funeral, he called for an end to gerrymandering, statehood for DC and Puerto Rico, a national holiday on Election Day, and other democratic reforms. Most of all, “if all this takes eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that’s what we should do,” Obama said.

Just because Obama says it doesn’t mean the rest of the party will agree. But Obama sees his role in the present moment as guiding a consensus among Democrats, not picking fights. He wouldn’t have taken those positions if he didn’t think they were viable as priorities with the party establishment. And the framing around Lewis was exactly right, underscoring that there can be no meaningful “reckoning” on race in America without reckoning with the way American institutions embed racial inequity in representation.

Structural reforms designed to advance political equality are also a viable legislative agenda in terms of public opinion. Civis Analytics, a top Democratic polling firm, tested a wide range of reform ideas complete with partisan framing to try to determine those popular enough to move forward on. They found that DC and Puerto Rico statehood, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, re-enfranchising ex-felons, requiring the use of independent redistricting commissions, and blocking corporate campaign contributions are all above water with the public. To get any of that done, Democrats would need to first secure a majority in the Senate and then end the filibuster.

Busting the filibuster and using a newly unleashed majority to uncork several major changes to the structure of American politics would be a shocking turn of events. Pressure will be intense after the madness of the Trump years to declare that things are “back to normal” and to avoid taking actions that the GOP will easily agree to oppose. But Democrats should consider how frequently and somberly they’ve intoned that the future of American democracy is at stake. The fact is that an undemocratic system doesn’t go away just because Democrats win one time.

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Video: President Trump: Never has there been a clearer choice between parties (FOX News)

Noel Gallagher blames America for sexualising female artists .
Oasis legend Noel Gallagher has a problem with how America has created a culture where women are sexualised.The former Oasis guitarist has slammed 'Midnight Sky' hitmaker Miley Cyrus' recent performance of her hit song for the MTV Video Music Awards last month, in which she performed on top of a giant disco wrecking ball.

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